Butterworth airbase to stay, says Affendi

Shamsul Munir Safini

BUTTERWORTH: The airbase here is still relevant and will continue to remain a strategic location for the Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF).

Air Force chief General Tan Sri Affendi Buang said talks by surrounding residents that the airbase would be relocated was untrue.

“There is no security issue and the airbase will continue to remain where it is. This airbase is still very much relevant,” he said when met at the RMAF Open Day 2018 here today.

Deputy Defence Senator Lim Chin Tong (centre) with Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) chief General Tan Sri Affendi Buang (left) officiate the RMAF Open Day 2018 at Butterworth airbase in Penang. Pic by MIKAIL ONG

It was previously reported that the airbase in Teluk Air Tawar here would be relocated to make way for a development project.

On Feb 5, 2014, TSR Capital Bhd received then Barisan Nasiaonal Federal Government’s approval in principle to negotiate on the proposed terms for the relocation and reconstruction of the new base in Ara Kuda, about 14km away, through a land swap deal.

Affendi said he and Deputy Defence Minister Senator Lim Chin Tong would ensure that the airbase was maintained as it was still very much needed.

Members of the public view the RMAF C130H air craft at the Butterworth airbase in Pulau Pinang. Pic by MIKAIL ONG

According to him, programmes such as the RMAF Open Day would provide an opportunity for the locals to see for themselves the assets and roles played by air force personnel in taking care of the safety and sovereignty of the country.

“Many are unaware of the roles played by the air force and today they will get to witness first hand and mingle with the pilots and other personnel here,” he said, adding it would also encourage young people to join the numerous positions available in the air force.

Meanwhile, Lim said such programmes exposed the people to the world of the air force.

RMAF F/A-18D Hornet flies during the RMAF Open Day at the Butterworth airbase in Penang. Pic by MIKAIL ONG

“It is seldom that people get to see military assets and today they are able to do so up-close-and-personal,” he said.

The RMAF Open Day is held in conjunction with the air force’s 60th anniversary.

Thousands of people thronged the airbase here to enjoy the numerous air performances lined up, among them the Sukhoi SU-30 MKM, F/A-18D Hornet, Hawk 108/208 and PC-7 MK11.

This was the first time the Butterworth airbase played host. © New Straits Times Press (M) Bhd